We make decisions every day. We start by deciding wether to wake up early in the morning or stay in bad until a bit later.
To read the news, social network or exercise. Eat breakfast or not. We make social, relationship, financial, political and career decisions.
And yet, most of the time we have no strategy for making decisions. Unless there is something critical or “life changing”, we act instinctively.
So what drives us to make certain decisions?
We have different needs, which we don’t event notice sometimes, that push us to go in a certain direction. Being aware of them will likely help us make better decisions.
I have included the list of needs we have and when you need to make the next decision, consider which of the needs below you are trying to satisfy
1. Need for consistency
Be conscientious that your past will most certainly influence your future. The experiences you had in the past will change the way you choose in the present moment, and that decision might seem radical to someone else around you. People always say that they are making the same mistakes over and over again, right? Have you ever seen a friend, family member make a bad move and they insisted on going in that direction? That’s the only way they knew.
That also reflects in the items we purchase. Yes, we might have a drive sometimes to try something new (see point 2 below), however most of the time we stay with the produce we know, and brands we have heard about it. It’s a decision we make knowing that those items might not be better than the products we haven’t heard of yet, still – our decision remains the same.
Perceived risk is a reason to stay with what you known and stay with the same job, not become an entrepreneur, or find yourself in the same type of relationship, only with with a different person.
2. Need for uncertainty
Other times we act impulsively, from the desire to change the way things are. We get easily bored with our situation, wether financial, relationship, professional etc.
And sometimes we make a radical change, withou the need for it. Sometimes we decide to make a change for the sake of changing things and then we realized we were happier before. Other times, it was the best decision we could have ever made.
Having the option to change your mind, return an expensive product you have decided to purchase, or keep a day job while working on your career, might also drive someone into making a decision.
3. Need for security
Financial security might be something that might drive our decisions in a certain direction. How many times we have seen people not loving what they’re doing, but not changing their direction because that was a “secure” job and for them it might seem like the only option when in reality it was a decision they made to get them where they are.
Staying in a relationship, even if sometimes not happy in it, is a decision an individual is making every moment of their life.
3. Need for recognition/appreciation
Many times we act knowing that it’s not in our best interest, from the desire to be recognized, appreciated and valued. And that might or might not be required or the other people might or might not notice it and that leads to frustration, although it was a decision we made.
Cleaning the house, only to see your significant other not noticing what you’ve done or not keeping the house clean. Working until exhaustion, not having either breakfast/lunch/dinner due to lack of time for completing a task you want to present to your boss/client then next day. These are all decisions we made (although sometimes we feel they are forced on us), however we need to be recognized for them.
4. Need for control
“ Because I told you so” . How many times parents have said that to their children, when asked why they should do something. And how many times children rebel against what their parents have told them? We need to have a certain level of control over our lives and sometimes our decisions are impacted by that.
5. Need to validate our decisions
We need to make sure we have chosen the best option and to validate that and many times after purchasing an expensive item, we continue comparing it to other items in the same category, only to validate our decision. When you bought a car, even days after the purchase, have you still looked at other cars and compared them with yours?
6. Perceived results
We never even try to take action sometimes, because we think it might result in failure. We don’t talk to someone thinking that they might not answer back. Or we say yes when we want to say no, due to perceived implications of saying no to something. And perceived is the word here. It is not the reality, it is our impression of reality, however we act on it and make decisions based on the few impressions and information we think we have.
The next step is understanding how to improve our decision making process. This checklist will help you make better decisions.
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